Max is one week old

Ever since working with my first pregnant client,  I have observed how hard those first weeks postpartum can be for new mothers on a physical and emotional level. As such I had planned to not only document Max' growing up, but wanted to see how I felt week-to-week in those six weeks that are so crucial for healing but which are also without any support on the medical side and often any assistance on the logistical end if you live - like I do - in the US/ NYC without that proverbial village or your family close by. 

In comparison, women in Germany have access to a midwife that is assigned to them for six weeks to help them maneuver questions such as nursing, sleeping and self-care, whereas here, these services could probably be summed up in the work of postpartum doulas or babynurses who are difficult to afford especially as an entrepreneur that is taking a pay cut for the duration of their choosing, while recovering from childbirth. A friend in Germany who is in the same business as I am, was paid close to $2,000/ month for a full year of maternity leave. It makes me weep.

Anyway, I digress. We've made it to a week. Seven days ago, I was sitting in a hospital bed with an epidural in my back, had tracked some of my runners in the NYC Half Marathon and taken a nap. We even thought we'd watch a quick episode of "Call the midwife". But transition was fast approaching. I was on an IV of pitocin and they had broken my water... (*I can tell you my birth story in more frightening detail in person - I'll just focus on the positives here). Six hours later my doctor checked and it was time to push. 

I believe her exact words were: "I've only ever seen one woman push that child out in super fast pace of two contractions and she was an Olympic rower". Didn't she know who she was talking to? "Roma, this is not a competition..." Yeah, right. "I have to tell you that she tore BADLY!" Ok, maybe not two then. 

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Max came out 30 minutes later and he was perfect. Since then, he's taught me how to breastfeed him, we've passed the diaper test of soiling as many diapers per day as he is days old. He took a first sponge bath, gained an inch in length, met his pediatrician and managed to sleep through a friend's party as well as a few coffee outings. Some of my interactions with him feel incredibly intuitive, some others make me scratch my head. Like: how much can a little boy of 7.5 lbs possibly drink? 

As for my recovery, there are two things that hurt and are making moving around a little more difficult. One is the tearing that I couldn't avoid despite admitting defeat to the Olympic rower... The other is a self-inflicted (and self diagnosed) psoas strain, possibly from pushing. The latter occasionally robs me off breath and knocks the wind out of me. Both of them hurt laughing. Either will make it hard to resume running as a form of exercise in the foreseeable future. 

And you know what?

I.DON'T.CARE. I have just spent the most incredible week getting to know a person that we made. All we do at this point is dictated by his schedule and his needs. I have plans on the horizon and I have no doubts that I will get there. But how... that remains to be seen. 

One week in it is hard to believe that Chris and I were ever just the two of us. 

Recipe: chopped kale and brussel sprouts w/ honey vinaigrette

Recipe: chopped kale and brussel sprouts w/ honey vinaigrette

t's been a while since I posted a healthy recipe on here. But here it is: chopped kale and brussel sprouts with a honey and apple cider vinaigrette. Use a bag of Trader Joe's cruciferous crunch collection or chop up a cup of kale, a cup of brussel sprouts, a cup of red or green cabbage and any other crunchy green.

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Review: Vega Sport Performance Protein

Review: Vega Sport Performance Protein

Where do I begin? When I came across the new performance protein powder on the Vega website, I looked at the ingredients and they all jumped out at me because they've been mentioned individually as the pillars of recovery. I had never seen them all in one product though. Tart cherries. Probiotics. BCAAs. Turmeric. Glutamine.

I'm a big proponent of recovery. I had been using the Vega Recovery Accelerator after every hard run workout but with the performance protein, I felt that once a week was enough.

We live and we learn and deep down I knew I wasn't quite getting enough protein for my workload. Even worse, when I returned from a recent trip to Australia where I had only run but not taught much personal training, I noticed that after working with clients and a first class doing "Cardio Cross Training", my upper body felt pummeled. I had only done leg work but no push ups, dumbbell work or other resistance training for the upper body. It was embarrassing how weak I felt and how sore I got.

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Warm Corn Bean Salad

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This warm corn bean salad fits the current weather perfectly and it's easy to make. You will need: 2 cups arugula, one can of black beans, 2 medium tomatoes, corn (one ear or one can), 1/2-1 tsp of coriander, salt and pepper to taste.

Roast the corn, either as a whole on the grill or the kernels in a pan (like I did), mix in the drained can of beans, add coriander and salt and pepper and let simmer for 5 minutes at low temperature. Let it stand while you chop the tomatoes and arugula, then mix it all together. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar or glaze and ENJOY!!

 

Rice Pilaf and sauteed Kale

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For Monday dinner, we had a beautiful summer/ fall dish. It has felt like fall in New York City and so rice pilaf and sauteed kale sounded just right. You will need 2 tbs of butter or a vegetable substitute, 1/2 cup of orzo pasta and 1/2 cup of basmati rice, 2 cloves garlic, 1 small onion, 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth.

Prepare the pilaf as follows:

Melt the butter or oil in a saucepan. Cook and stir orzo pasta until golden brown. Stir in onion and cook until onion becomes translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Mix in the rice and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, and the liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

In the meantime wash and trim one bunch of Tuscan kale, add 3 garlic cloves (cut in half) to 2 tbs of EVOO in a skillet on medium heat. Wait until they are browned and fragrant, then add the kale little by little. After a few minutes it will wilt and you can add up to 1/4 cup of tamari. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

ENJOY!

Summer Bean Salad

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Last week one of our friends couldn't pick up his CSA share and so he generously gave it too us! But as I was scratching my head over bok choy, lettuce, scallions and wax beans, it took a bit of creativity to make this summer bean salad. But it came out deliciously and the hubby almost polished off the whole thing by himself. You will need, one can of cannelini beans, 3/4-1 lb of wax beans, half bunch of red scallions, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup of EVOO, 2 tsp sugar or other sweetener, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 cups of lettuce.

If you have trouble with a bloated stomach when you eat raw onions, dice the scallions and put them in cold water for 10 mins. Meanwhile mix the vinegar with sugar and salt. Then add the onions and cannelini beans.

Bring a pot of slightly salted water to a boil, add the wax beans (trimmed and cut into inch size pieces), boil them for approximately 5 minutes, then drain under cold water.

Add the waxed beans to the rest of the salad, wash the lettuce and spin it before adding it to the bean salad. Season with salt and pepper.

You will probably want to start eating right away but if you can let it stand for up to 1hr so the dressing can permeate everything.

Vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, not paleo!

Enjoy!

Nourish - The Fit Woman's Cookbook (Review)

After reading the news of how one blogger was treated after announcing that she was going to stop being vegan I was pretty upset. However when I received the opportunity by Fit Approach and Lorna Jane to pre-read Nourish, The Fit Woman's Cookbook I was delighted to be given the opportunity to review a book that embraces a holistic approach to all food and gives readers the tools to create fantastic healthy dishes regardless of their preferences.

Lorna Jane looks like the epitome of what she 'preaches'. Radiant, happy, fit and content. I had been first introduced to her brand by my in-laws in Australia and am happy to see that she is now taking the US by storm with her positive attitude to (women's) health and fitness and NUTRITION.

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The book includes smoothies, dips, salad dressings, mouthwatering main dishes and (most importantly!) dessert! The measurements are given metric and imperial which makes things much easier for this European gal! The book also includes explanations of the ingredients and their benefits.

The suggested shopping list is simple yet complete and the photographs that go along with the recipes are stunning!

Lorna Jane emphasizes the importance to eat for well-being and to stop dieting. She understands what women need to thrive and makes sure that while being a fit woman's cookbook, Nourish doesn't ever leave you feel like you are deprived of something.

If you wish to change your body, she includes eating plans for various stages:

Her recipes are broken down into:

  • Eating Plan to Get You Started
  • Eating Plan for Energy
  • Eating Plan to Cleanse

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I personally have tried the smoothie recipes and can't wait to create my first dinner. I will make sure to share it with you.

For now, you can be one of the lucky winners of this book. Participate in the #LiveLoveNOURISH initiative and join the conversation with @lornajaneactive and @fitapproach and tell us how you #LiveLoveNOURISH your body.  The most active participant will receive a copy of the book AND a $200 gift card to #LornaJaneActive. Also, join the twitter party July 9th at 6 PM PST/9 PM EST. Hashtags … #LiveLoveNOURISH #sweatpink #lornajane @LornaJaneActive @FitApproach or by clicking on this tweet: Join the #LiveLoveNOURISH initiative w/ @LornaJaneActive @FitApproach! Giveaway of: 10 NOURISH Cookbooks + $200 Gift Card to #lornajane!

GOOD LUCK!!

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Cherry Pie (drool...)

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It is summer, darlings! And that means fruit pies... in particular for me: cherry pie (while I wait for the farmers market peaches to arrive). Those who have taken my classes this week may have noticed that I had an upset stomach a few times. As a girl once summer break came around I could usually be found at my best friend's house - in the cherry tree. I usually paid for the hours of eating cherries (and drinking water) with an upset stomach. And the past week was no different. Not in a cherry tree anymore but I ate as if I was and arrived at some classes with a bit of an upset tummy.

Anyhow... I hope you are all enjoying the diversity of summer fruit that is so abundant these days.

This pie was adapted from Smitten Kitchens' beautiful sour cherry recipe, made with some leftovers that I had but turned out delicious.

You will need:

One Trader Joes frozen pie shell

For the filling:

1.5-2 lbs of cherries (of the dark sweet variety) 2 tbs of corn starch 1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar

For the crust:

2/3 cup rolled oats or Trader Joes hot multigrain cereal: organic rolled whole grains(rye, barley, oats & wheat) 1/3 cup coconut palm sugar 1/4 tsp cinnamon 1/2 cup all purpose flour 1/2 cup almonds 4 tbs of melted butter (cooled)

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Let the frozen pie shell thaw and then press it into a pie form or a quiche pan - parbake in the oven for 10 mins at 300 degrees. Take out and let cool.

Mix the cherries with the other ingredients. Fill the mixture into the cooled pie shell.

In a food processor grind the oats/ grain mixture with the almonds, then add sugar and flour. Move the flour mixture to a bowl and combine with cinnamon and then fold in the melted butter.

Spread the almond/ flour mixture over the cherries. Bake in the oven for 70 minutes at 350. Once it starts smelling deliciously and is lightly browned on top, take it out. Let cool slightly and serve with fresh whipped cream or clotted cream.

ENJOY!

Wild Rice Salad with Corn

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If you are like me, you are always on the hunt for sides for dinner that aren't too heavy and that still leave you satisfied. I personally don't do well with salad for dinner. It takes too long to digest and bloats me. Steamed veggies yes but only if I haven't been exercising too much. Also, the husband likes to work out in the afternoon/ evening and then usually returns ravenous. Cue the wild rice (salad with corn). Delicious, natural, nourishing with a nutty flavour. And with many health benefits (apart from being gluten free): It contains twice as much protein as brown rice and can be eaten by diabetics, since it is actually a grass, and the grains are not polished or refined (check with you doctor though!). It is very rich in antioxidants—containing up to 30 times more than white rice and because of its high fiber content, wild rice keeps your digestion smooth and helps lower cholesterol.

Ok, now this is the recipe. Straight forward: cook the wild rice according to package instructions (approximately 1/4 cup per person). If you like you can use chicken or vegetable broth. While the rice is cooking, finely slice a small onion and sautee it in 1-2 tbs of EVOO for about 5 minutes until browned and soft. Drain the rice and rinse under cold water. Let the onions sit to cool.

Add 1 cup of canned corn kernels or even better cut off the kernels from a cob to a medium sized salad bowl. In a separate small bowl mix 1/4 cup EVOO, 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbs honey, 1 minced garlic clove, salt and pepper.

Mix all the ingredients and enjoy! #glutenfree #notpaleo #notvegan #vegetarian

ENJOY!

Avocado Toast

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This is one of the simplest lunches and has been recreated in so many ways: avocado toast. Avocado is vegan, vegetarian, paleo and delicious. Avocados contain a high percentage of fat but mostly monounsaturated, i.e. healthy, fat. They contain a relatively high amount of protein, more potassium than a banana and have a high content of fiber.

In addition, avocados are rich in vitamin K, Vitamin B9, vitamin B6, vitamin B5 vitamin C, and vitamin E. They help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of diabetes, stroke, and coronary artery disease.

This avocado toast is simple but has one surprising ingredient that makes it even more delicious, IMHO.

Toast two slices of good quality sourdough or multigrain bread. If you are gluten sensitive, use Ezekiel with sesame. Cut one avocado and remove the pit. Spread each half on one of the slices. Cover the avocado in toasted sesame seeds or gomasio. Use the juice of half a lemon on each avocado toast. Slice two cherry tomatoes and add the slices on top of the avocado. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Get Healthy!

Arugula Couscous Salad

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Another easy, breezy, beautiful recipe :) Arugula Couscous Salad with parmesan and a lemon dressing.

All you need is a cup of pre-cooked and chilled couscous. Then take 4 cups (a big bowl of it anyway) washed arugula. Grate a half cup of parmesan and mix it with the salad and coucous.

For the dressing simply mix 1/4 cup of EVOO, juice of one lemon and add salt and pepper.

Voila! #vegetarian #notvegan #notpaleo #delish

 

 

Mango Lassi Ice Cream

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When life hands you mangos, you have got to make mango lassi ice cream. Also because peeling mango and making it look presentable is tedious. It's easier to put it straight in the nutribullet and then try to (gracefully) eat the rest of flesh off the pit, while nobody is watching. The combination of yoghurt, chia seeds, mango and mint makes this recipe very fresh and healthy.

For 4 pop molds, add 1.5 cups of yoghurt to a blender. The amounts I used work well for the nutribullet but if you have a bigger blender, you could double or triple the amounts. Add 3 tbs of chia seeds and let the mixture sit for about 15-20 minutes until the seeds take on a gelatinous texture. Add the flesh of one mango and a handful of mint leaves (approximately 10). Blend the mixture with 4 ice cubes and fill it into the pop molds. Let them freeze over night.

Done. Ice cream for breakfast!

ENJOY!

The Watermelon Feta Salad you always wanted to make and never dared to try...

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You know how restaurants feature fancy watermelon salads with mint and feta. They are a fresh summer side dish, delicious and quick. You love all the ingredients, but somehow you never see yourself making it at home... So a few weeks ago, we started gardening on our little deck. One of the key ingredients I wanted were a few herb plants. I'm not great at landscaping and I've already forgotten which flowers go by which name. Ahem...

BUT: I got mint. And it is alive and kicking. So yesterday I made watermelon feta salad with mint. And it turned out delicious.

You need: 1/4 watermelon, cut into bite size pieces, 2oz feta cheese (or more if you like), black pepper, 3-4 tbs EVOO, 2 limes and 1/4 medium onion chopped very fine, one handful of mint chopped.

Toss the watermelon with the mint, juice of 2 limes and onion and let it sit. Add the EVOO, feta, pepper. Take a photo for Instagram and voila!

ENJOY!

Miso massaged kale

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I'll be honest. I'm not a big kale fan. I got sucked into eating it because it's so good for me and I have had kale salad that blew my socks off (like this one). But when it's just sauteed or better MASSAGED kale that I prepare I usually don't like it. Kale chips are fine but so disappointing in quantity seeing a whole head of kale disappear. For kale juices, I like to add a whole lotta lemons and apples and quite honestly unless it's really well prepared my digestive tract often doesn't love kale raw.

Anyhow... I love Asian food and miso in particular. So I thought I would make this miso kale with a new spin. With the dressing below and shelled edamame!

I bought Miso paste and massaged the salad with it and some other ingredients. And the result wasn't half bad if I do say so myself. :)

Try for yourself:

3 tbs miso

1/3 cup EVOO

1-2 cloves garlic minced

1/3 cup grated parmesan (optional)

3 tbs lemon juice or rice vinegar (optional - see how sour the salad is with the miso before adding more acidity)

ENJOY!

I baked bread! So you can, too (gluten free option)

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I am notorious for baking bread rolls with a beautiful yeast base and ruining them EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. The result of my attempts to make brioche, challah or bread can be used to smash in windows and even Zola won't eat them. So when I heard about this bread that would only take about 15 minutes active time, I was skeptical to say the least.

But I did it and it worked out beautifully.

You will need:

2 cups of (gluten-free) rolled oats

2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour (Bob's Red Mill makes a gf version that you could use)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1.5 cups buttermilk

1 egg

Pulse the oats in a food processor until fine. Then combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the egg plus buttermilk in a different bowl.

Make a well in the center of the flour mix and add the buttermilk gently folding it in. The dough will be very sticky but resist the urge to over mix it.

Place the dough on a floured surface and gently kneed it - if too sticky add a little flour. Then score the center in a cross shape (it is almost Easter after all!).

Grease an oven-proof cast iron skillet and place the dough in the center. Bake at 450 F for 15 minutes and then reducing the heat to 400 for another 25 minutes.

At this point you should see a beautiful cross shape on top of your bread and when you knock on the bottom it should sound hollow.

Here! You're done!

This bread, warm with butter is literally heaven. At least my idea of heaven. I'm German, after all.

ENJOY! xx

Waldorf Salad Healthy

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This salad was first created between 1893 and 1896 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City (the precursor of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, which came into being with the merger of the Waldorf with the adjacent Astoria Hotel, opened in 1897). For me it was such a weird experience having it for the first time and it does symbolize NYC for me and how in awe I was when I first came here and walked the streets of Manhattan.

This version is mine to make the Waldorf salad healthy and I hope I don't offend anyone that I call it Waldorf Salad. Instead of celery I use endives which in their bitterness create a nice antidote to the apples and I soaked the walnuts to make them EVEN healthier!

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Mr. Hamilton: Would you make me a Waldorf Salad?

Basil Fawlty: [having never heard of it] I beg your pardon?

Mr. Hamilton: Get me a Waldorf Salad.

Basil Fawlty: Well, I think we just ran out of Waldorfs!

Anyway... you will need three small heads of endives, half a cup of soaked walnuts (read up on the health benefits of soaking nuts), one medium apple cored, peeled and cut into small pieces, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 cup of vanilla yoghurt (GASP! alternatively plain yoghurt and a sweetener of your choice, maple syrup, stevia, honey or anything else that takes your fancy), 2-3 tbs mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste.

Chop the endives and place them in a bowl with lukewarm water for 5 minutes (the water removes the bitterness). Then drain and mix with the apples and the walnuts. Mix the yoghurt and mayonnaise, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Combine.

ENJOY!!

Cabbage Lentil Soup

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For Tasty Tuesday, this is a nice lunch the next day as well as a light dinner. Cabbage Lentil Soup with Farro. I try and keep my dinners lighter than my lunches and reduce the amount of carbs and heavy foods in the evening. Sometimes more successfully than other times. Somehow when I do that, I want to snack around 9/10 pm.

This soup is satisfying in smells, looks and flavours. Cabbage is widely used as a diet food. Who doesn't remember the cabbage detox soup? And lentils are filling and combined with the faro a great protein for your workouts!

You will need:

  • one small onion
  • 3 cloves (not BULBS as previously stated in a recipe) garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs of thyme, rosemary and 1/2 tbs of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • half a head of cabbage
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup of red lentils
  • 1/2 cup of farro
  • 2 cups of kale

Sautee the onion and garlic in 2 tbs of EVOO until fragrant. Add the spices and keep it cooking for a few minutes. Add the cabbage for 5 minutes until lightly browned and wilted. Deglaze the pan with the vinegar and add the broth, lentils and farro.

Cook all of this for 20-15 minutes partially covered. Then add the kale on top, cover with a lid and cook for another 5 minutes.

ENJOY!!

xxR

Red Lentils Recipe

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This red lentils recipe is so simple, I don't have much to say about it except that it is so yummy and was a total "what's left in the fridge" dinner. Red lentils with fennel. It may seem odd that we have fennel and lentils left over but it was that dire!

I really like fresh fennel. In Germany women give young babies fennel to help with colicky nights and even as an adolescent I always really liked that particular tea. So now I sometimes buy Yogi Tea Stomach Ease which includes it. I have also started using fresh fennel in recipes such as "The Chew's" braised short ribs with red wine and fennel and the middle Eastern dish with Kibbeh and fennel salad a la Ottolenghi that I featured here on the blog.

This red lentils dish is great by itself or as a side dish. All you need is one cup of red lentils for every 2 cups of water or (preferably) broth.

Bring the water/ broth to a boil, stir in the red lentils. Cut one fennel bulb in half and slice very thinly and add that half to the boiling lentils.

It will take approximately 30 minutes until the lentils are cooked, then you can sneak in a teaspoon of Turmeric for its amazing health benefits and: ENJOY!

xxR

 

Healthy Breakfast and Snack Ideas (with Strawberries!)

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If you are pressed for time (like I am today!!), I say, go break out the blender for these healthy breakfast and snack ideas. I am obsessed with strawberries! I can eat them fresh, frozen, on cakes, pureed, as ice cream, yoghurt and even on toast (remember?).

So what better way to start my busy morning today than with a smoothie! I have recently acquired a Nutribullet and oh boy has it changed my life. It's quick and easy to clean and store which is vital in a NYC apartment.

This morning we had a beautiful smoothie that really packed a punch with the following ingredients (and nutrients):

SPINACH: vitamins K and A, folic acid, dietary fiber and protein! BANANA: potassium, tryptophan, serotonin and norepinephrine! DATES: iron, calcium, vitamin A and ß-carotene! STRAWBERRIES: vitamin C, fiber, manganese and folate!

So with one delicious cup of smoothie (even though the colour doesn't give it away) we took care of our heart, bones, memory, muscles, immune system and mental health as well as female health.

For a late morning snack I prepared some Chia Seed Pudding with Strawberries. Chia Seeds are the flaxseed of the millennial generation ;) They reduce food cravings, help you stay hydrated, lower blood pressure and are rich in Omega-3. Add 2 tbs of seeds to 1 cup of almond milk or coconut milk, add the fruit of your choice (2/3-1 cup), buy a cool looking mason jar to store in, and refrigerate for 5 hrs or overnight.

ENJOY!

xxR

Zucchini Onion Quiche

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This zucchini onion quiche is a nice vegetarian dinner for two. Not sure if it's technically a quiche or a pie but it tasted great. You will need: 3 eggs, 1 cup of grated parmesan, 1 medium onion chopped, 1 clove garlic,  salt and pepper to taste, 2 medium zucchini sliced, 1/2 cup EVOO, 1 cup of all purpose flour, 2 tbs baking powder, 1/2 cup of ghee or butter or another vegetable oil (whatever you do, do NOT use coconut oil. Trust me I tried...).

Mix the whisked eggs, parmesan, salt and pepper, zucchini, minced garlic, and EVOO. Then add the onion and the mixture of flour, baking powder and ghee (mix those three ingredients separately until smooth). The result will be a very unattractive weird "dough" that you can now refine with spices you like. I added some paprika and some everything spice. You could also add something like cayenne or maybe crushed red pepper flakes for some extra oomph.

Transfer to a pie dish or rectangular baking tray and bake for 40 minutes at 350 F.

Enjoy! And let me know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook. If you liked it, please share with your friends, too!

xxR